Cracking the Code: Market lobbying and the role of the state

In this seminar for International Women’s Day 2023, ANU Australian Studies Visiting Fellow A/Professor Erin O’Brien will explore how the lobbying tactic of ‘political investorism’ can be used to strive for gender equity, and address global issues such as modern slavery that disproportionately impact women.

About the Seminar

The marketplace is increasingly an arena for political wrangling and social change. Shifts in global governance necessitate the pursuit of ‘private’ or ‘sub’ politics beyond the traditional political sphere. Social movement organisations mobilise consumers and investors to lobby corporations for action on gender equity, climate change, First Nations’ rights, modern slavery, and other pressing global issues. Campaigns adopt insider and outsider strategies, including political consumerism – the expression of political values through consumption decisions, and political investorism – the use of a financial stake in a firm, fund, or financial institution to express political values.

The state is not a neutral bystander in the push and pull between consumers, shareholders and corporations. The Australian Federal Treasurer Jim Chalmers has recently called for a policy agenda grounded in ‘values-based capitalism’, implicitly lending support to campaigners’ efforts to promote ethical investment. This is in stark contrast to the previous Coalition-led government’s attempts to limit the capacity of market actors to consider values, or ethics, when making investment decisions. This seminar presents the findings of recent research investigating political investorism mobilised by social movements in Australia, and considers the role of the state in enabling and constraining this form of market lobbying for social change.

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About the Speaker

Associate Professor Erin O’Brien is a Visiting Fellow at the ANU Australian Studies Institute, and an ARC DECRA Fellow in the Centre for Justice, QUT. Her research examines political lobbying, advocacy and participation, with a focus on market-based activism including ethical consumerism and shareholder activism.

Updated:  28 February 2023/Responsible Officer:  Institute Director/Page Contact:  CASS Marketing & Communications